School Choice House Race Spotlight: HD 99

Texas State Capitol
Texas State Capitol | Image by Texas State Capitol/Facebook

Incumbent Rep. Charlie Geren is set to face off against challenger Jack Reynolds in one of more than a dozen Texas House races shaped by the failure of school choice legislation to pass last session.

Geren (R-Fort Worth) is a long-time member of the state legislature, serving as the representative for HD 99 since he was first elected to office in 2000. The district comprises a chunk of Tarrant County.

He is currently a member of the Licensing and Administrative Procedures and Energy Resources Committees and serves as chair of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee.

Geren drew scrutiny during the 88th legislative session due to his opposition to school choice. He voted in favor of an amendment that removed education savings accounts, which would have allowed families to use taxpayer money to help pay for private school or homeschooling expenses, from an education spending bill.

When asked about his anti-school choice position in November 2023, Geren reiterated his opposition to its implementation in Texas.

“I’m still there and I haven’t ever moved,” he said, per the Houston Chronicle.

Rather than passing school choice, Geren’s campaign website states that the incumbent supports “strengthening schools.”

“Charlie Geren believes the best investment we can make is in our children. That’s why he restored nearly $5 billion in funds cut from our schools and added an additional $3.2 billion for the Foundation School Program. He also significantly cut STAAR tests and enhanced local control over schools so we can ensure our kids get a great education,” the website reads.

According to the Texas Education Agency’s latest accountability reports, Fort Worth ISD logged alarming student achievement outcomes, with only 31% of students scoring at grade level on their STAAR exams during the 2021-2022 school year. Dallas ISD also logged poor marks that school year, with only 41% of students scoring at grade level.

Geren’s challenger, economics professor and former public school teacher Jack Reynolds, has been a vocal supporter of school choice in the Lone Star State, telling The Dallas Express that he hopes to “collaborate with reform-minded colleagues in the House and the Senate.”

“I am confident that the governor is likewise ready to make significant reforms to our public education system. Texas is poised to lead the way for the nation in education reform, which is desperately needed. I look forward to working [with] other educators in Texas to make significant improvements in our public education system,” he told DX.

Reynolds’ campaign website states that he believes the state should “empower parents through school choice.”

He also earned an endorsement from Attorney General Ken Paxton, who included Reynolds on a list of candidates he said “will fight every day to defend Texas values.”

“Texas is under attack, and we must fight to protect our conservative values not only from the Biden Administration but from liberal Republicans who enable and allow reckless liberal policies to wreak havoc on our state and our local communities. If elected, these Republican County Chairs, Judges, and State Rep candidates will fight every day to defend Texas values. These candidates will stand up to Dade Phelan and his woke agenda that is embarrassing the state,” he wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

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